By AUSTIN COLBERT
COLBY -- Physically, 5-foot-10 junior Haley George isn't a whole lot different than she was last season. But a lot else has changed, and not just for her, but for the entire Hays High School girls' basketball team.
"I feel like I'm more confident in myself. And it's my teammates that have helped me a lot," George said. "Last year I didn't feel like I had everyone behind me but this year, I have so many people behind me and I feel awesome."
Behind George's career-high 10 points, the Indians defeated Colby High School 39-35 Thursday at the Colby Community Building, already their second win of the season after going 0-21 in 2013-14. Their first win came over same Colby team, 44-40, last Friday in the consolation semifinals of the Hays City Shootout, snapping a 23-game losing streak.
"It's real nice to get one at home and then get that one on the road," HHS coach Kirk Maska said. "I thought our girls played really, really hard again. And the shooting was a little better tonight. Hopefully that will just continue to build as we get better."
Neither team exactly lit it up in the first quarter, Hays High (2-3) holding a 6-5 lead entering the second. Then the tempo picked up, the Indians building a 12-8 lead a few minutes into the period.
Colby (0-4) finished the half strong, however, junior Brenly Terrell connecting on back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute to turn a four-point deficit into a 16-14 halftime lead for the Eagles. Terrell was a problem for Hays High most of the night, as she led all players with 17 points and made five 3-pointers, four of which came in the first half.
"I think it got in our heads, but we didn't lose it. We thought, well, she's done it before. Just guard her now and don't let it bother you," George said of Terrell. "I feel like when we get down, we start to freak out and we lose it and we turn over a lot more. But we honestly, every time we did something wrong, we didn't stop. We kept playing."
Hays High's best stretch -- possibly of the season so far -- came midway through the third quarter. The Indians trailed 23-19, their largest deficit of the game, before embarking on an 11-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter. With a 30-23 lead a minute into the final period, Hays High watched as Colby mounted a comeback, a pair of baskets by senior Shaila Giebler leading to ties at 32-32 and 34-34 with less than three minutes to play.
A Giebler free throw with 2:26 remaining gave Colby a 35-34 lead, but it only lasted as long as it took HHS senior Ashlyn Parrish to get down the court for a bucket and a 36-35 Indian lead.
Hays High added three free throws, one by Parrish and two by senior Summer Smith, and did just enough on defense during the final two minutes to hold on for only its second win in its last 27 games.
George was the lone player in double figures for Hays High, seven of her 10 points coming in the first half.
"Haley, I see her in practice and she does well in practice. She just gets a little tight in the ball games," Maska said. "We've seen spurts of her playing relaxed and then we finally get to see her the way she is capable of playing. She didn't let things bother her if she missed a shot or had a silly foul. She didn't compound it with another mistake. She has matured a lot and she's going to be big for us."
Hays High will play one final game before the holiday break, when it hosts Junction City High School at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the HHS gym.
Hays High 39, Colby 35
Hays High (2-3) 6 8 15 10 -- 39
Colby (0-4) 5 11 7 12 -- 35
HHS -- Haley George 10, Parrish 7, Peckham 5, Kleweno 5, Smith 4, Schmeidler 4, Dinkel 2, Schlaefli 2
Colby -- Brenly Terrell 17, Strange 9, Giebler 7, Schindler 2.